My husband thought it would be fun to try a new hobby called “geocaching.” It’s probably best to go to the link to see how it works, but to quote from the geocaching website, “Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online.” Lest you think this is some obscure sport, let it be known that “there are 1,508,597 active geocaches and 5 million geocachers worldwide.” Make that 5,000,002, after today.
Not far from our neck in the woods is an abandoned mica mine on a mountaintop known as Lord Hill. Although the mine was closed many years ago, it is permitted to hunt around for the odd missed gem, of which there is beryl, feldspar and tourmaline, plus lots of mica, whose uses you can read about here. According to the geocaching website, there were two caches located near the mine. Since it was a warm, clear day this Labor Day weekend, my husband thought it would be a perfect opportunity for a “treasure hunt.” Since he loves gadgets, he was very excited to put his personal GPS to practical use. We knew the longitude and latitude of the geocache, and now it was up to us to hike the trail up the mountain and locate the cache.
I will try anything once (“once” being the keyword here!) and since I’m always game for a hike in the woods, we were soon on our way in a very remote part of the Maine woods. Although we were driving our sturdy 4×4 Isuzu Trooper SUV, the dirt road quickly became washed out and impassable, a combination of disuse and the effects of the recent Irene storm, with boulders, unstable soil, and downed trees blocking our path. We managed to park alongside the narrow road, realizing that if we couldn’t get through no one else could, either, and navigated the rest by foot.
There were many things to see as we trekked up the mountain:
And some truly amazing, weird fungi (mushrooms):
As we slowly made our way up the mountain, our GPS indicated that the first cache was nearby.
Inside the rotten hollow of an old tree, we found a large yellow inoperable flashlight. Opening the flashlight casing, we found a small toy HotWheels (the “treasure) and a small pad of paper and a pencil, to record our names and date of our “find.” Since we didn’t have a trinket or treasure of our own to replace with the HotWheels, we put the HotWheels back in the flashlight casing for another geocacher to claim.
Flushed with success (not to mention the steep climb and the heat of the unseasonably warm day), we continued climbing to the Lord Hill mine, attempting to locate the second cache. The hint was that it was located beneath some trees, looking down into the hole. We saw the trees, we saw the hole, but even after a frustrating hour of searching, were unsuccessful finding the second cache.
Although we were disappointed in not finding the “treasure” of the second cache, we found some beautiful quartz and mica specimens to add to our rock collection. And the view at the top of Lord Hill was spectacular, with Horseshoe Pond to the right and in the far distance, our property sat somewhere on the third mountainside.
After our hike, we drove to spring-fed Keewaydin Lake for a quick, refreshing swim in the cold, clear pure water. Life doesn’t get better than this!
When we returned home my husband uploaded a topo map recording our route up the mountain, and looked up Lord Hill on the geocaching website. It turned out that he hadn’t read the most recently updated report! The cache had been moved about 40′ away from where we had been searching. Oh well . . . there’s always next time.